Thursday, May 23, 2013


Racing at "The Action Track"

As long as there's been racing, there's been nicknames--some colorful, some unimaginative, some bizarre.  You can easily find lists of dozens of nicknames online, but its a little harder to find out WHY certain drivers/teams have certain aliases.

Well, its a little harder no more, thanks to this list!

Any blatantly obvious nicknames (Jamie Mac, Double A, etc.) are being skipped, but everything else is fair game.

Navigation is on your right---->

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All images are copyright Wikipedia and are for informational and educational purposes only.

All writing and logos are copyright Mack of Spades (2013).


(in order of 2013 car number)
Brad Keselowski

Brad KeselowskiBrash/Bad Brad--comes from his outspoken personality.
Crashlowski--came from his tendency to wreck/drive rough early in his career.

Kasey KahnePorcelain Doll/Baby Face--refers to Kasey's "delicate" features (and popularity with the ladies).

Marcos AmbroseTasmanian Devil, Devil Racer--a reference to the cartoon character the Tasmanian Devil (Marcos is a native of Tasmania, Australia).

Tony Stewart:  Smoke--originally referred to his tendency to "smoke" (slip) the right rear tire of his sprint car.  Later referred to his IndyCar team's tendency to blow engines.  Can also refer to his fiery disposition.
The Columbus Comet--Tony grew up in Columbus, Indiana.
The Rushville Rocket--Tony first raced out of (read: was billed from) Rushville, Indiana.

Later version of the "Rowdy" Truck
Kyle BuschRowdy--while it applies to his aggressive driving style, the true origin is a bit more complicated.  When Kyle returned to the Truck Series, it was with Billy Ballew Motorsports, who fielded the #51 truck.  At that time, Bobby Hamilton Sr. was sidelined battling cancer, so as a tribute to him, Ballew & Busch painted the truck as a replica of the #51 Exxon car from "Days of Thunder".  Bobby's first Cup experiences were driving the movie car, which had "Rowdy" above the driver-side window, in reference to character Rowdy Burns.  The truck also had "Rowdy" above the driver-side window, and the nickname stuck.
Wild Thing--also refers to Kyle's aggressive driving style (popularized by Mike Joy).
Shrub--because he is the younger Busch brother, and a "shrub" is a "little bus(c)h".

Joey Logano (left)
Joey LoganoSliced Bread--given to him early in his career (either by Mark Martin, Randy LaJoie, or both) due to his sky-high potential ("…he's the greatest thing since SLICED BREAD").
Burnt Toast--a derogatory nickname given after a long winless stretch in Cup.

Jeff GordonThe Rainbow Warrior (old)--Jeff's first paint scheme was rainbow-colored to advertise Dupont's automotive finishes.
Wonderboy (old)--a sarcastic moniker applied by veteran Dale Earnhardt at the height of Jeff's dominance.
Ol' Four Time--Jeff currently has four Cup championships.

Paul MenardMenardburns/Nardburns--a comment on Paul's defining physical feature--his pointy sideburns.

Kevin HarvickHappy--given to him early in his career for his omnipresent smile, though a bit ironic based on his fiery attitude on and off the track.  A smiley-face is used for his pit-board.
The Bakersfield Basher--refers both to Kevin's hometown of Bakersfield, California, and his willingness to "throw down" in the pits (Kevin, for the record, was a wrestler in high school).
Mr. Where Did He Come From--bestowed by Mike Joy for Kevin's tendency to come on strong late in the race.
The Closer--see above.
2.9--When Kevin made it to Cup, it was under very difficult circumstances, "replacing" the legendary Dale Earnhardt Sr.  In fact, it was by mutual decision that the famous 3 car was renumbered as 29 for Harvick.  Frequently, a small piece of tape was placed between the 2 and 9, reading "2.9" as in "close to the 3".  Later, it came to summarize Harvick's job stepping into Dale Sr.'s old ride--he isn't the 3, but he's pretty darn close.

Jeff Burton
Jeff BurtonThe Mayor--Jeff is well-respected (and well-spoken) in the garage, and is frequently said to be a natural for future public office.

Terry LabonteTexas Terry--The Labontes hail from Corpus Christi, Texas.
The Ice Man--as a publicity stunt, Humpy Wheeler trucked in a huge block of ice for an open testing session at Charlotte Motor Speedway on a blisteringly hot day.  Terry was photographed sitting on it, and the name stuck.  In later years, it came to also represent his coolness under pressure.

J.J. Yeley:  contrary to popular belief, "J.J." is NOT Mr. Yeley's first name--its Christopher.  J.J. comes as a tribute to his father Jimmy and uncle Jack.

Ryan NewmanRocket Man/Flyin' Ryan/Mr. Friday--all refer to Newman's early career mastery of qualifying, frequently winning poles and setting track records (qualifying is frequently held on Fridays).

Aric AlmirolaThe Cuban Missle--Aric is of Cuban ancestry (is a play on the phrase, "Cuban Missile Crisis").

Jimmie JohnsonOl' Five Time (old)--believed to have been coined by Darrell Waltrip, in honor of Jimmie's five straight Cup championships.

Mark Martin
Mark MartinIronman--a tribute to Mark's physique (Mark was one of the first drivers to openly embrace fitness training).
Mr. Consistency (old)--earned in his prime for rarely having a bad finish, even if with a sub-par car.

Kurt BuschThe Outlaw--self-ascribed for his "rebel" nature (first popularized in the Speed Channel documentary "Kurt Busch: The Outlaw").
Rubberhead--comes from Kurt's early sponsor, Rubbermaid.

David ReutimannBeak--in reference to his pointed nose, David's pit-board reads "STOP BEAK".

Joe NemechekFront Row Joe--earned during a mid-90's streak of first or second-place starting positions, believed to have been coined by then-teammate Wally Dallenbach Jr.
Need-a-check--derogatory nickname given after Joe frequently started-and-parked his cars in the late 00's.

Carl EdwardsCousin Carl--Carl's "in" with Nascar early in his career was his relation to Ken Schrader, hence he was frequently introduced as "Ken's cousin, Carl".
Concrete Carl--refers to Carl's mastery of Nascar's two concrete tracks, Dover and Bristol (as well as a former Nascar track paved in concrete, Nashville Superspeedway).


(drivers not listed with Cup)

The M&Ms car
Elliott SadlerCandyman (old)--Elliott's most-successful Cup run was in the M&M's Ford.

Sam Hornish JrSideways Sam--derogatory nickname referring to Sam's tendency to spin-out and crash, especially at the Cup level.  His name is also occasionally used as a synonym for "crash", most-famously by Tony Stewart: "Did we get Hornished there?".

Justin AllgaierThe Little Gator--refers both to his short stature and his last name's pronunciation ("gaier" sounding similar to "gator").  Justin's teams frequently have an inflatable or stuffed alligator in their transporters.

Chad HackenbrachHacken-something--self-ascribed nickname (occasionally seen over the driver-side window) in reference to his difficult-to-spell last name.

Kenny & Kim Wallace
Darrell Wallace JrBubba--UNKNOWN, though Bubba is a common nickname for southern men.

Kenny WallaceHerman--given by a local track promoter, alluding to Kenny's resemblance and similarities (especially in mischievous behavior) to comic-strip character Herman The German.  Also goes by "The Herminator", a portmanteau of "Herman" and "The Terminator".

Ron Hornaday JrThe Restart King--earned for his mastery of green-flag restarts in the Truck Series.

Todd BodineThe Onion--possibly self-ascribed, refers to his bald head, which loosely resembles an onion.  Was also called a "Cueball-Headed Fool" by Dale Earnhardt Jr.


(in order of career wins)

Richard Petty in his driving days
Richard PettyThe King--in honor of Petty's late-60's dominance, 200 career Cup wins (easily an all-time record) and "regal bearing" with fans everywhere.
Squirrel Jr. (old)--UNKNOWN (frequently seen in old pictures, particularly when Richard was racing against his father Lee).

David PearsonThe Silver Fox--both for his masterful on-track strategy and gray/white hair.

Darrell WaltripJaws--self-ascribed meaning was for his ability to "swim" through traffic like a shark, while the original meaning (from Cale Yarborough) was for his constant talking.

Dale Earnhardt SrThe Intimidator--given for his take-no-prisoners style of racing, which, it was said, could make a driver wreck without even touching him.
The Man in Black--comes from Dale's most-famous paint scheme, the all-black GM Goodwrench look.
One Tough Customer (old)--comes from Dale's second-most-famous sponsor, Wrangler Jeans, who used "One Tough Customer" as a marketing slogan at the time.  Also fit Dale's hard-edged public persona.
Iron Head (old)--while Dale's father, Ralph Earnhardt, was nicknamed Iron HEART (see below), Dale was given the derogatory nickname Iron HEAD early in his career for his refusal to conform to the racing standards of the day.  Dale Sr. soon adopted this nickname personally.

Bobby AllisonThe Matador--Bobby was by far the most-successful driver of the AMC Matador during its brief run in Nascar.

Rusty's Championship-winning car
Rusty WallaceKing of the Short Tracks--bestowed for his mastery of Nascar's three active short-tracks:  Bristol,
Martinsville, and Richmond.
Rubberhead--came from Rusty's ability to "bounce back" from a near-fatal wreck in 1988 to race the next day.  Could also refer to his "white-guy fro" from his younger days.

Ned JarrettGentleman Ned--Ned was seen as one of the first "polished" drivers by the media, as well as being friendly to competitors and fans alike.

Junior Johnson:  actual full name is Robert Glen Johnson Jr.  Ironically, Junior has said that he actually dislikes his commonly-known nickname.
The Last American Hero--comes from a Tom Wolfe magazine profile of Johnson, titled "Junior Johnson is The Last American Hero--YES!"--it was later used as the title of a movie loosely based on Johnson's life.

Buck Baker:  though born Elzie Wylie Baker, he was given his nickname early in life by his mother, who named him after a bull the family owned (who was said to be just as uncontrollable as her son).

Bill ElliottAwesome Bill from Dawsonville--Bill hails from Dawsonville, Georgia, and is fond of using the word "Awesome" in conversation.
Million Dollar Bill--Bill was the first driver to win the "Winston Million" $1,000,000 bonus for winning three of Nascar's Crown-Jewel races (Daytona 500, Spring Talladega, Coca-Cola 600, Southern 500).

Fireball Roberts:  Edward Glenn Roberts Jr. got his nickname in high school for his "blazing" fastball on the baseball diamond.  In a tragic case of irony, Roberts was killed in a fiery wreck.

Fred LorenzenThe Golden Boy--said to come from his combination of good looks, good manner-of-speaking, and on-track ability.
The Elmhurst Express--Fred was born in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Joe Weatherly: The Clown Prince of Racing--coming from Joe's light-hearted pranks at the track, as a tribute to the frequently-used sobriquet "The Clown Prince of ____" (which comes from the phrase "Crown Prince").

Ricky Rudd
Ricky RuddIronman--Ricky holds the Cup record for most-consecutive starts.
Rooster--beyond alliteration, alludes to Ricky's proud and no-nonsense personality.

Benny ParsonsThe Professor--earned in Benny's broadcasting career for his on-air insights.

Speedy Thompson:  Alfred was Speedy's real first-name (and Speedy's a pretty self-explanatory nickname for a driver).

Buddy Baker:  Elzie Wylie Baker Jr.'s better-known nickname's origin is UNKNOWN, though he was well-known for his likable public persona.
Leadfoot--another pretty obvious nickname for a racer, likely referring to his mastery of Nascar's fastest tracks.
The Gentle Giant--alludes both to Buddy's affable nature with fans and his large frame.

Fonty Flock:  Truman Flock got his nickname as a reference to his middle name, Fontello.

Harry GantHandsome Harry--a tribute to his good looks, especially for his age.
High Line/Groove Harry--a reference to Harry's tendency to take the racing line closest to the wall.
The Bandit--comes from Harry's long-time sponsor, Skoal, and their Bandit line of chewing tobacco.
Mr. September--a play on Reggie Jackson's "Mr. October" nickname, it came to be in 1991, when he won four straight Cup races (in addition to two Busch Series races) in the month of September.  Could also refer to his success in the "autumn" of his career.
The Answer to Every Trivia Question--given to Harry post-retirement by Darrell Waltrip for his tendency to use Gant as a standard answer to trivia questions.

Curtis TurnerPops--double meaning on this one:  it was said that Turner's standard term-of-endearment for any man was "Pops".  Conversely, it was said that he had a tendency to tap, or "pop" drivers on the track.
The Blond Blizzard of Virginia--comes from his hair-color and home state.

Ernie IrvanSwervin' Irvan--a derogatory term for his aggressive racing style, especially early in his career.

Cotton Owens:  Everett Owens' better-known nickname came from his white hair.
King of the Modifieds--in honor of Cotton's early-domination of Nascar's Modified racing series.

Alan KulwickiUnderbird--first-used in the famous 1992 Cup series finale, the "T" in "Thunderbird" on the front of Alan's car was removed to reference the team's "Underdog" status.

Tiny Lund:  DeWayne Louis Lund got his nickname as an ironic nod to his physical size (6'5'', 270 lbs.).

Pete HamiltonThe Gentleman Racer--a tribute to Pete's gentlemanly nature both on and off the track, as well as his mostly part-time career (drivers who had a primary source of income outside of racing were known as "Gentleman Racers").

Red Byron:  Robert Byron's nickname was likely a reference to his hair color.

Tiger Tom Pistone:  the rare driver who was almost always referred to by his nickname AND first-name.  The nickname was likely a comment on his hard-charging racing style.

Jimmy SpencerMr. Excitement--earned in his modified racing days, but stayed relevant through his career for his aggressive driving style.

Johnny BensonFour-Eyes (old)--Johnny was one of the only drivers to wear glasses while racing (until he had Lasik surgery).

Greg Sacks subbing for Robby Gordon
Greg SacksSuper-Sub--while he only earned one Cup win in his long career, Greg was well-respected as a substitute
for injured drivers.

Wendell ScottGive 'Em Hell Wendell--came both from his position as a fan-favorite and the local pronunciation of his first name (rhymes with "Hell").

Jimmy MeansSmut--early in his career, Means built an engine according to a guide published by the legendary Smokey Yunick.  Means bragged to competitor Bobby Allison that the engine would make him "…another Smokey", to which Allison replied that he wouldn't even be "smut", with smut referring to dirt or grease.  Smut's OTHER meaning explains why Jimmy does not like this nickname.

Hut Stricklin:  Waymond Lane Stricklin Jr. got his nickname from his father--but oddly enough, he claims to have no idea where it came from.

Ted MusgraveMad Dog--self-ascribed moniker that came after he felt he was robbed of a championship in the Truck series, referring to his new "no holds barred" approach to racing.

Mike SkinnerAngie's Bus Driver--self-ascribed self-effacing nickname, given post-retirement.  Mike's wife Angie is a well-known radio personality, and Mike had joked that he is now best known for being Angie's husband/bus-driver.

Herman BeamTurtle--this came from Beam's record-setting streak of races without a DNF, which infamously came about through EXTREMELY cautious (aka slow) driving.

Banjo Matthews:  Edwin Matthews was originally called "Banjo Eyes" as a boy for his large eyeglasses.


(in order of career wins)

Jack IngramThe Iron Man--originally referred to his busy schedule running in the old Sportsman Division (running up to 60 races a year).  Could also apply to his staying power in the early days of the Busch Series.
Tommy Ellis in his race car

Terrible Tommy Ellis:  another driver whose nickname and first name were usually used together, his nickname came from his rough racing style.

Mike McLaughlinMagic Shoes--one of the more mysterious origin stories in Nascar history.  Mike himself has admitted he has no idea WHY he was nicknamed "Magic Shoes", though it seems to have been granted by short-track announcer Joe Marotta.


Rick Carelli

Rick CarelliThe High Plains Drifter--Rick hails from the high-altitude of Colorado.

Coo Coo Marlin:  Clifton Marlin's better-known name was self-ascribed at a young age--as a toddler, he constantly mispronounced his first name as "Coo Coo".

Kelly Girl Sutton:  refers to the famous "Kelly Girls" of Kelly Service.

Richie EvansThe Rapid Roman--Richie came from Rome, New York.

Ray HendrickMr. Modified--comes from his lengthy career in Nascar's Modified series.

Ralph EarnhardtIronheart--the Sportsman series driver (a forerunner of the Busch/Nationwide series) earned his nickname for his never-give-up attitude, finding success despite limited resources.


Roger PenskeThe Captain--a term of respect, frequently used by his pit-crew during races, for the former racer and current "captain" of industry.
Joe Gibbs coaching the Redskins

Joe GibbsCoach--Joe Gibbs was the three-time Super Bowl winning coach of the Washington Redskins.

Joe FalkLittle Joe--a combination reference to Joe's small stature, and tribute to Bonanza character "Little" Joe Cartwright.

Chip Ganassi:  Floyd Ganassi's commonly-used nickname's origin is UNKNOWN.

Jack Roush:  The Cat in the Hall--Mr. Roush is rarely seen outdoors without his signature panama-style hat.


Robert BarkerBootie--Barker's well-known nickname has a mysterious origin--he has refused to say where it came from.
Jeff Hammond-prepped, DW-driven

Jeff HammondHollywood--comes both from his post-retirement media career as well as his "Hollywood" good looks.

Jake ElderSuitcase Jake--as legendary as Suitcase Jake was at turning teams around, he was just as famous for leaving teams "just as things were getting good".

Buddy Parrott:  James Kenneth Parrott's nickname's origin is UNKNOWN


The Rainbow Warriors at work

Rainbow Warriors:  Jeff Gordon's first pit crew gained its nickname from the brightly-colored paint scheme on the 24 car.

Flying Aces:  Dale Earnhardt's mid-to-late 80's pit crew was regularly the fastest in the sport.  Also known as "The Junkyard Dogs".

Flying Deuces:  Rusty Wallace's first pit crew with Penske got its simple nickname from its car number.

Pit Bulls:  Greg Biffle's team gave itself this appropriate nickname for any crew.

Killer Bees:  Matt Kenseth's championship pit crew took its name from his DeWalt-sponsored yellow and black paint scheme.


Neil Bonnett of the Alabama Gang
The Alabama Gang:  arguably the most-famous "name" group of drivers in Nascar history.  Hailing from Hueytown, the first generation consisted of Bobby Allison, his brother Donnie, and independent driver Red Farmer.  Those three were later joined by the colorful Neil Bonnett.  The second generation consisted of Bobby's sons Davey and Clifford, both who reached tragic ends, and Donnie's son-in-law Hut Stricklin.

Them Battlin' Bodines:  this derogatory nickname for the three Bodine brothers (Geoffrey, Brett and Todd) came about during a family feud in the mid-90's that occasionally spilt on-track.

W.A.L.L.A.C.E.:  a derogatory nickname for the three Wallace brothers (Rusty, Kenny and Mike) that came about during Rusty's early-90's rivalry with Dale Earnhardt.  Stands for "We All Look Like A**h***s Chasing Earnhardt".

Busch-Whackers:  this term was first used in the 90's to describe Cup drivers dropping down to the Busch Series to run (and typically dominate) companion races.  The nickname has stuck despite Nationwide Insurance taking over sponsorship of the series.  Ironically, Kyle Busch is now the most (in)famous of this group.

Aero-Warriors:  in the late-60's, the slogan "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday" was the law of the land.  With
Richard Petty's Superbird
Superspeedways Daytona and Talladega hosting the biggest (and most-famous) races of the day, manufacturers came out with "aero-warriors"--huge cars built to take advantage of the aerodynamic draft at these tracks.  Such cars were the Ford Torino Talladega, the Dodge Charger Daytona, and the famed Plymouth Superbird.

Independents:  in the 60's and 70's, only a handful of superstar drivers received support from the manufacturers.  The majority of the rest of the field was made up of teams that worked on their cars with little or no technical (or monetary) support from Detroit.  The best of these--those who competed on a regular basis--were nicknamed "The Independents".  Arguably the most-famous independent driver was Dave Marcis, although J.D. McDuffie and Elmo Langley were also fan favorites.  In addition, Richard Childress retired from an independent driving career to become one of Nascar's most-successful team owners--ironically with a lengthy sponsorship from GM.

Young Guns:  with the success of Jeff Gordon at an early age, Nascar teams began looking for the Next Big Thing, coming up with driver development programs to get young drivers to the Cup level as early as possible.  The most-successful of this group (particularly in the early 00's) were nicknamed "Young Guns", especially after participating in a Gillette promotion of the same name.


Chocolate Myers

Chocolate Myers:  Danny Myers was given his nickname at a young age, when he was referred to as "Chocolate Drop" by a football coach for his dark tan.

Bill France SrBig Bill--before it came to acknowledge his looming large over the world of stock car racing, it simply referred to his imposing physical size.

Chris EconomakiThe Dean of American Motorsports--earned over a long career in print and broadcast journalism, much of which was spent at the top of his profession.

Dr. Jerry PunchDoc--a shortened version of "Doctor", Jerry is a certified (though non-practicing) emergency room doctor.


AtlantaNascar's Fastest Track--Atlanta typically posts the fastest lap times on the circuit, and as such is the "fastest" track that does not feature restrictor plates

Sign at Bristol Motor Speedway
BristolThunder Valley--though the track IS located in a valley, the nickname actually originates from the neighboring drag racing facility.
World's Fastest Half-Mile--differentiates the high-banked Bristol's comparatively high speeds from other, flatter short-tracks.

DarlingtonThe Lady in Black--refers to the "dark" nature of the track, which is notoriously hard on drivers and equipment.
The Track Too Tough to Tame--see above.

DaytonaThe World Center of Racing--In addition to the world-famous Daytona 500, the Daytona facility hosts such diverse events as motorcycle racing, endurance racing, and even short-track racing.  Originally referred to the actual Daytona Beach, which hosted numerous land-speed record attempts in the early days of the automobile.

DoverThe Monster Mile--the highly-banked track with the huge, sweeping turns is extremely difficult on drivers and equipment alike, as well as the only track on the circuit that is EXACTLY one mile long.

Indianapolis' "Yard of Bricks"
IndianapolisThe Brickyard--the historic track's historic Indianapolis 500 was first run on a tar-and-gravel track, which quickly disintegrated under racing conditions.  This was soon replaced by millions of paving bricks, which held up better in the coming years.  Though the bricks were eventually replaced by asphalt, the nickname has stayed, as have a small portion of bricks at the start-finish line.

MartinsvilleThe Paperclip--a take on the shape of the track, which has been called "…two drag strips connected by two hairpin turns".

New HampshireThe Magic Mile--a self-ascribed nickname that refers to the tracks's approximate length.  The origin of the "Magic" part of the nickname, however, is UNKNOWN.

PoconoThe Tricky Triangle--Pocono is the only track on the circuit to feature three turns instead of four (or more).  With all three turns featuring different banking and racing grooves, the track is notoriously "tricky" to prepare for.  Before gaining this moniker, the track was occasionally called "The Speedway That Thinks Its a Road Course".

RichmondThe Action Track--a tribute to Richmond's tendency to produce exciting finishes and on-track drama.

RockinghamThe Rock--a simple abbreviation.

TexasThe Great American Speedway--self-ascribed, and appropriate for the patriotic-themed pre-race ceremonies.


Langhorne Speedway Logo

Langhorne SpeedwayThe Big Left--Langhorne was famous for being a nearly-perfect circle, thus requiring a car to constantly turn left.
The Track That Ate Heroes--Langhorne was infamous for the number of fatalities it had in the early days of racing.
Ontario Speedway:  The Big "O"--in addition to the obvious, the track (a near-replica of Indianapolis) was shaped like a capital "O".

Walt Disney World SpeedwayThe Mickyard--the track was built by the owners of "The Brickyard", Indianapolis.  Mickey Mouse is the world-famous mascot of the Disney corporation.


Daytona International Speedway

Daytona 500The Great American Race--popularized by broadcaster Ken Squire, referring to the race's status as the premiere race in American stock car racing.
The Super Bowl of Racing--despite being the season's first race, the 500 is considered the most-prestigious in American racing (see above), and typically has the pomp and circumstance of a championship game.

Southern 500 (Darlington):  The Granddaddy of Them All--Darlington, the first high-speed race track in the south, hosted the first 500-mile race in stock-car history.